People matter. Pets matter. Pollinators and wildlife matter.

So do trees. Trees, such as the shade-providing oaks at the epicenter of the browntail moth issue, can take up to 80 years to attain full size in Maine. The few licensed-applicator arborist companies of the Maine Arborist Association that protect these trees have a very limited toolbox to work with. Pruning out moth caterpillar nests is an early season option. Materials specified by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry are applied through three different modes – through the root flare injection, through bark absorption or with a foliar spray application. Constant exposure to rashes makes it very tough work.

This season was building up to a massive onslaught of caterpillars. They were everywhere – and they were very much alive through May. The rains seemed to have little effect. Finally by June, when most applications were well in place and applied, with the continued rains, the browntail moth population was severely reduced because of a fungus that is instigated by cool, rainy weather. Thank goodness.

Some clarification, however, is needed. A bit of a stigma is attached to placing a post-application sign in a yard. As a matter of background, the signs are meant to provide a helpful heads up to the property owner or those who might be entering the property that something has been applied. Signs placed on job sites are required by state law, no matter whether organic, natural or synthetic materials are applied.

Setbacks from water resources are specified by state law and are also strictly observed by our licensed applicators. Within each gradient, or distance from a body of water, we are informed by our own Department of Agriculture which products are approved for use. Of course, the label of the individual product must be clearly understood and abided by. Regardless of whether organic, natural or synthetic products are used, safety of the public, pets and wildlife is paramount to a Maine Arborist Association professional licensed applicator.

Member companies of the association recognize plant health care as the cornerstone of their practices. Plant health care, as defined by the International Society of Arboriculture, is a holistic approach to plant care that focuses on the health and growth of plants. Put simply, plant health care works to improve the overall plant environment before consideration of the use of treatments.

An arborist’s duty is to protect trees and in so doing protect some of the most valuable assets to our landscapes and public places. We embrace treatment options that reduce exposure to the public and our applicators, as well as the newest treatment options, which are far advanced over what was available 20 or 30 years ago.

As professionals, we are informed by scientific research provided by state university extensions from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, Ohio, Michigan, Colorado and Maine, to name but a few. Research from state forest services provides still more support. Such support helps us to differentiate between minor and potentially major pest issues, as well as the latest options for dealing with them. Arboriculture is a fascinating and enriching profession, in which the learning never ends. In which, additionally, you can pour your heart into. We are caring for living things – the largest living things on Earth, which is an honor every single day.

Our beloved trees are facing unprecedented pressure. Aside from the aforementioned browntail moth, our trees face devastating attack from insects such as the hemlock wooly adelgid and emerald ash borer. Both have found Maine’s environment very suitable to their development and proliferation. In further stress to our woodlands, invasive vines climb and choke our trees from below, swarming up their trunks and capable of growing over their highest reaches.

The professional arborists of the Maine Arborist Association have the love of trees to handle all of these situations, if the public simply supports them. We greatly appreciate your own love of trees and your support.


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